With any kind of new activity, there's always a bit of fear for most children. Learning to ride a bike can be scary. Riding a bike for one child will be terrifying whereas for another they can’t wait to get out there. Have you got a little daredevil on your hands who can’t wait to be on a black diamond? Perhaps your child is more nervous and still has not lifted their feet to test out their balance. If your child is a little apprehensive about learning to ride a bike, here are a few tips and tricks we've tried or heard about from parents trying to help their kids overcome their fear of riding a bike.
1. Be Patient — There’s No Need to Rush!
There'll be a certain amount of resistance when there's fear. We’re big fans of providing a huge amount of encouragement and letting our kids grow at their own pace. Stay calm so that they'll be able to calm their own nerves, too. We’ve found that our kids want to be biking just like mom and dad, and they seem to always know their own comfort levels. Our job is simply to be there to give them the bike they want to ride when they want to ride it.
2. Strider Bikes
A strider bike or a balance bike is a great way to introduce biking without the fear of having to lift the feet off the ground. For a child who’s more fearful, this can be a great way to test out the waters. We’ve found that if a pedal bike is nearby, children will let you know when they want to try it out. Until then, a balance or strider bike is a great way for them to get more comfortable with biking.
3. Keep Your Fears to Yourself
As a parent, you go out of your way to protect your child. You may be aware of all the falls and scrapes that could happen, but the trick is to not let your child fixate on these things that could happen. Biking is tons of fun! When a child is focused on the fun they’re having, it’s easy to forget all the “what if” injuries.
4. Let Them Know That Failure Is OK
If your child's learning to ride on a balance bike, let them practice falling over on a soft spot. If you have a tumble yourself, show them your scrape or bruise. Explain that it was sore for a bit, but that it’ll be ok, and you learned a lot from your fall. Regardless of falling, you’re still excited to get back on the trail and try again. A little bit of slapstick humour can go a long way. Making a little fall seem kind of funny can sometimes help that fear your child is feeling.
5. Provide an Example
Get on your bike and pedal around slowly. Let them see how you move and how the bike moves. Point out to them that this is NOT how you biked when you first learned. Share some funny stories about when you learned to ride. Get your child laughing with you about some of your more hilarious biking moments as a kid, or even as an adult! After all, we’re all still learning to ride a bike.
6. Positive Reinforcement
When your child gets on a bike, cheer! When they balance around the yard for the first time, cheer! When they get on a kid's bike seat and grab hold for the first time, cheer! Let them know how impressed you are with their bravery.
7. Introduce Your Child to Mac Ride
Being with mom or dad on their bike, nestled in their arms and chatting together can be an excellent development stage for children who are apprehensive about their own bikes. You can share what it’s like to go around corners, help them build confidence with holding onto your bars, and all that important (and fun!) stuff. Truthfully, we most often hear about children begging to zoom about on Mac Ride, faster and more often. We’ve had a few families let us know that the Mac Ride was the right step for their child who was feeling anxious about biking. It eased them into wanting to do more themselves.
We've found that with patience and time, our children can overcome this fear and be even more fearless than we are sometimes. There are some great links for reading about runner bikes, comparing them to training wheels, and also on pedal bikes for young kids. If you're ready to get your toddler a Mac Ride bike seat, check out our selection online. Start the conversation with them now to see how they feel about getting on a bike for the first time.
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